Secrets of the Clown (2007)

Rating: D

Dir: Ryan Badalamenti
Star: Paul Pierro, Kelli Clevenger, Micheal Kott, Dusty Mitchell

I knew we were in trouble, right from the opening scene depicting a night attack, which appears to take place in near-complete darkness. Whether this is the fault of the film-makers or the transfer is uncertain, but it plagued the film more or less throughout – any scene which did not take place in broad daylight is almost invisible, leaving the viewer struggling to figure out what’s going on. As near as I can make out, the plot circles around Bobbie (Pierro) and Val (Clevenger), a couple who have…issues. Val’s obsession with a clown doll, and the recent death of Bobbie’s friend under mysterious circumstances, with the doll found nearby. Since then, Bobbie has been increasingly plagued by nightmares and hallucinations involving the victim; to resolve the situation, he gathers his friends and a psychic (Kott), to try and contact the restless spirit, so they find out who was the murderer. No prizes for guessing how well that goes.

This is strictly bargain-basement fare, on just about every level, from the production values (as noted above, and also some pretty poor post-synch work on the audio), through the performances to effects whose execution is well short of the requirements of the plot. You can see what they’re trying to do, but the results look like offcuts from a Halloween party, though fractional credit is due for some enthusiastic use of corn syrup and food coloring and the director finding a friend willing to take her top off. But the core concepts, when revealed, turn out to be so ludicrous, and the script then adds multiple twists on top, which provoke fewer gasps of amazement at the revelations, as snorts of derision. Throw in the frantic over-acting by Kott, which is neither amusing nor entertaining, the long wait to get to the meat of the murder, where you have to sustain yourself on the no-so witty banter of Bobbie and his friends, and the use of a kitchen utensil as a weapon, purely so Bobbie can say, “You’re toast!” No. Just stop. Please.